Currently listening to: We Walked In Song by The Innocence Mission
The first of October is China's National Day and, as a result, we, as well as the majority of Chinese, have the entire first week of this month off as vacation. Company tradition for the foreign staff in our city is to have a retreat (yes, all 200 of us--men, women, and children!) to the beach. It was a wonderfully relaxing weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city and school.
The trip to the coast was interesting. We had three charter buses and about an hour into the trip, one had smoke pouring out of the engine into the inside of the bus. Then a few hours later our bus blew out a tire (right under my feet!) We had to go extra slow until we got to the next rest station where they could get it properly fixed. Knowing how traveling in China can be crazy, there was even a mechanic that was hired just to ride with us in case anything bad happened. He certainly earned his pay this week. On the way back today, we stopped at a rest stop and then the driver and mechanic started examining the engine. The entire backside of the bus was black with oil. I'm not sure exactly what the problem was, but they "fixed" it by pouring 2 huge bottles (like gallon sized!) of oil into the engine and calling it good. The best part was when they were smoking right as they were working, never minding that they were working with oil and other possibly flammable things. Other than that, the ride was uneventful and we made it back in one piece.
Highlights from the weekend included:
- Swimming in the salt water ocean
- Playing Catan on the hotel hall floor
- Watching the first season and a half of Scrubs in 3 days
- Yummy western breakfasts
- Swimming in a swimming pool and hot tub
- Walking on the beach
- Going shopping at a nice pearl market
- Cable television (CNN and Deutsche Welle=happiness)
The hotel next to us had crazy spotlights at night.
The area has a lot of Russian tourists so lots of the signs are in three languages. The restaurant we went to after shopping had a great Chinglish menu. Anyone want some "hot spily all to fear rope pizza?"
The desserts were interesting--the choices included puppy love, troical love and burning icecream. The explanation from the waitress sounded like somehow the ice cream was actually on fire. Someone please explain--in words I understand!
The pizza Sara, Kimberly and I finally decided on had potato wedges, ham, onions, and green peppers. The ice cream we got was a banana float, complete with watermelon, instead of the traditional pineapple and strawberries.
The view on the beach looking right.
The view on the beach looking left--notice the proximity of the smokestacks to the beautiful surroundings.
On a walk we found a bride getting her picture taken.
Hannah and I enjoying a stroll.
Not exactly sure what this was--something traditional. A temple? Something honoring Confucius?
The lighthouse lit up at dusk.
Another great lighthouse picture--I love the lighting in this picture!
Tomorrow I leave again to Beijing for our annual teacher's conference. It will be nice to see more familiar faces and hear about how people from our New York training are adjusting to China.